Most people would agree that in-person meetings are the best way to communicate. But what if we remove in-person meetings from the equation? Can we still have effective communication? Has the technology that allows us to stay safe at home slowed our growth as individuals?
In an online environment, communication is accessible to everyone. It also allows more people to work. In a virtual work environment, employees can get their work done from anywhere in the world that they have access to a computer and the Internet. They don’t have to worry about the commute or if there’s bad weather at home because of where they live. Some people can’t commute or don’t want to because they might be caring for family members, etc.
It’s also good for the company’s bottom line because it reduces overhead costs. Instead of needing office space and supplies, the company only needs a reliable internet connection and maybe a chat system if employees aren’t all in the same place. It also allows the company to hire people living in more expensive areas without having to pay so much. One of the impacts of COVID-19 was that it affected commercial real estate investors. For years, this was one of the best investments you could make. But now people are not so interested in buying commercial property anymore.
As we live in this new world, businesses have had to change the way they work. There are more jobs where people can work from home. Bosses are wondering how they should rate and evaluate their employees. Additionally, how do we communicate with virtual employees? This is not the same as communicating with co-workers in an office.
For example, can you tell when someone does not understand what you are saying over text? Can you hear the tone, inflections, and pauses while they are typing? How do we know if our words are being understood correctly if there is no body language to help?
The main problem with online communication is that we try to use the same rules as if we were meeting someone face-to-face. This does not make sense because people cannot see each other. We are playing the same game as before, with new rules to follow. It’s important to figure out new rules for communicating with people online.
The first rule is to be brief. We cannot use body language, so we have to say as little as possible. When we write long-winded e-mails, our readers lose interest. There is a danger that the long e-mail you just sent can be received in a negative way. The reader could interpret the e-mail as speaking down to them or dictating to someone how to do their job. We know that people want to add their own input. Give your team some space to do that.
Next, you need to distinguish cues from written or verbal content without the aid of nonverbal cues. When speaking in person, the listener takes in cues not only from what you say but also from your voice tone and facial expressions. When you use an online medium to communicate, nonverbal content is lost. The listener has no idea how you are actually reacting or feeling about what they are saying or even if it sounds like there is anger in your tone of voice. While some words carry meaning by themselves, there are other words that have different inflections, varying tones, or facial expressions, which each have their own separate meanings. Avoid using words with more than one meaning or words that can be taken out of context.
There are many social cues that are given in person but not online. For example, through the use of body language, one can see whether or not someone is comfortable with what they are saying or how they are reacting to it. The tone of the person’s voice can show if they are angry or not on board with the idea that has been proposed in a virtual meeting.
The best thing you can do is be hyper-vigilant of what people are saying and how they are saying it. If you are not sure what someone means, ask them. You can also express your point of view in writing by responding to the person’s post rather than trying to explain yourself directly to them. If your written words are too long or complicated, it may be difficult for people on the other end to understand what you’re saying and how you truly feel. (See above section about the dreaded long-written e-mail).
We also want to make sure that other people are actually reading what we say because it’s easy to ignore someone when you’re typing, but not as much if the person is standing right in front of you. One easy way to do this is by using emoticons; however, some online communication software doesn’t support them, and it can sometimes come across as unprofessional to some people.
There is also the issue of body language, which we talked about earlier. We all know that we convey information with our body language, and it helps us understand each other and what someone else is really trying to say to us. But how much does this affect online communication? Do people pick up on the same cues online as in-person?
Based on research, not much body language is conveyed in written communication. Another study showed that using e-mail decreased the odds of developing friendships. It also found that people writing e-mails were less likely to ask for favors, which can be seen as rude. This is due to the lack of body language and tone of voice when we type on a computer or phone.
Essentially, when we work remotely, we see a decrease in organizational citizenship behavior. Additionally, when people communicate in an e-mail style, it doesn’t provoke someone to act positively.
Some of the most effective ways to communicate online are by video conferencing or just talking on the phone. It’s easier for people to read your tone over video than if you’re only typing words back and forth. Another thing that can help is to ask questions instead of just constantly sharing information.
For example, instead of constantly saying “please do this,” try asking your virtual team to “can you please complete this task?” It’s good practice to read the person’s social cues, tone, and body language in-person, but online it takes more effort.
If you ask a question, the other person is more likely to respond because you’re giving them power over the situation. Interactions with others can be particularly challenging online, so it’s important to pay close attention to each of your words.
In my experience, I have found that calling people individually or doing a meeting with the whole team is a good way to keep people engaged. Instead of planning a meeting to discuss whatever the next big project is, just plan it as a weekly or daily ‘check-in.’ This gives your team members the ability to communicate their issues in a setting that isn’t directed at assigning them the next task. People can feel overwhelmed when they’re given too many tasks at once, which results in less motivation and decreased productivity. It’s almost like writer’s block where people don’t want to write anymore because they’re stuck thinking about all the other things they had to do that day.
Removing in-person meetings from the equation can reduce trust and communication quickly among employees who don’t know each other too well. You can learn about your teammates just by doing a quick Google search or visiting their Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn page. Doing so offers some insight into what is important to them, and sometimes you might find out they share the same passions as you.
In conclusion, while it is true that body language and tone of voice are not as easily conveyed in written communication, this does not mean that online communication is ineffective. In fact, there are many ways to effectively communicate online. You just need to be aware of the differences between in-person and digital communication. Additionally, it is important to remember that when people communicate through e-mail or other written methods, they are less likely to act positively or ask for help. So before sending an e-mail or writing a message on social media, take a moment to think about how your words will be interpreted.
Everyone in the workplace has a role in creating and maintaining a positive culture.
This includes you, even if you’re just one person among many. You may not change your entire company’s culture, but you can create an inspirational environment where people can thrive and grow professionally. Here are five ways that any employee can do this:
Your coworkers will feed off your kindness and reciprocate with respect and consideration (research shows that when someone acts like an ass, it activates areas of the brain associated with anger).
It’s important to be kind to your coworkers because it sets the tone for the entire workplace. When you’re kind to someone, they tend to respond positively. This can create a positive culture where people feel appreciated and respected. Kindness also has other benefits, such as reducing stress and improving mental health.
Show Genuine Interest
This does not mean feigning interest – instead, showing genuine interest by asking questions about their work or their interest and hobbies. This will make them feel appreciated and acknowledged, which can help to build better relationships at work.
Not only is smiling genuine but it has been shown to increase productivity by as much as 20%.
Smiles have been shown to improve our moods and reduce stress levels. A study found that they increased their productivity by 20% when people smiled. This makes sense because a smile is a natural response, and it’s contagious – so if you see someone smiling at work, you might do the same!
Those who work in a transparent setting report greater satisfaction and will feel like they can trust their bosses more (often, those that think their bosses aren’t trustworthy dread coming into work).
Being transparent in the workplace can help create a positive culture because it builds trust between employees and their bosses. When employees feel like they can trust their supervisors, they are more likely to be productive and feel happier at work. Additionally, transparency can help to reduce stress levels because employees don’t have to worry about hiding information or keeping secrets. In a transparent environment, everyone is open and honest with each other, leading to a more positive work culture.
Do Your Job Well
Finally, do your job well. It’s the most essential inspirational tool you have at your disposal – people admire quality work and expect high standards from others. Doing your job well boosts your reputation and leads to increased trust and hope from those around you.
You may not be able to control the entire culture of your workplace, but by doing these five things daily, you will play an important role in making it positive and fun! American author Maya Angelou once wrote, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel .”
In the workplace, it’s important to create a positive culture. This can be done by being kind, showing genuine interest, smiling, being transparent, and doing your job well. When you act like a jerk at work, it activates areas of the brain associated with anger. However, when you are kind and show genuine interest in your coworkers, they will reciprocate with respect and consideration. Additionally, transparency builds trust between employees and bosses while doing your job well leads to increased productivity and admiration from others. Ultimately, these five tips will help make you feel happier and more productive at work!
Maintaining friendships is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Friends provide social support and can help us through difficult times. However, it can be challenging to find the time to keep in touch with our friends, especially if we are busy with work or other commitments. That’s why scheduling time on your calendar specifically for contacting friends is a great way to ensure that you don’t lose those valuable relationships!
Research into human relationships shows the importance of friendships. In the everyday hustle of our lives, we become a follower to what is on our calendars. If we want to stay connected with our friends, we must schedule a time to talk and catch up. Even a 30-minute phone call with a friend can have huge, lasting impacts on our mental health.
When we make time to talk with friends, it strengthens our relationships. Research has shown that people who speak on the phone more than once a week are less likely to experience depression and loneliness. This is because talking with friends releases oxytocin. Oxytocin makes us feel good, and it helps to reduce stress levels.
Additionally, unlocking time off on your calendar allows you to have more control over what you do in your day. When you know you have the appointment time blocked out, you are less likely to schedule other activities or meetings in its place. This way, you can make the most of your time with friends and not feel guilty about taking some time for yourself.
One of the reasons people tend not to schedule open blocks of time out on their schedule is the phenomenon of negative forecasting bias. This is the idea that we tend to think negatively about the future, and so don’t bother making plans because we assume they won’t happen. Or, we dread not having an open space in the future.
For the police world, the best example of negative forecasting bias is when we dread going to or attending a training event. We think, “I don’t want to go. It’s going to be terrible.” It could be as simple as in-service training, which is nothing more than annual updates and maybe firearms qualifications. By all means, it is typically an easy day.
Yet, despite this, we dread going. We see it on the calendar and immediately get anxiety over attending. Once we attend the training, we think to ourselves, “that wasn’t so bad.” However, when it rolls around again next year, we are back to dreading it.
Negative forecasting bias can also prevent us from taking time for ourselves. We might think, “I don’t want to block out any time on my calendar because something might come up.” But by doing this, we are more likely to have something come up. Having time blocked out for you on your calendar gives you a sense of ownership over that time and shows that it is crucial.
When it comes to our relationships, we should be proactive and schedule a time to catch up with friends. This will help us maintain those valuable relationships and reduce stress levels. Plus, it just feels good to talk with friends.
In a chaotic world, it is easy to feel lost. Control what you can; schedule a time to call a friend. It’s not intrusive and can easily be accomplished. By taking some control over our lives and improving interpersonal relationships, we are preventing mental anguish for ourselves in the future.
Taking control of your life can help improve your relationships with other people. If we are busy or overworked, the best way to maintain relationships with friends and family is by scheduling time on our calendars specifically for them. This helps us avoid the pitfalls of negative forecasting bias and not having any open blocks of time in the future. This can lead to reduced stress levels and a better overall feeling.
A personal philosophy is a basic framework for making decisions. It describes how you view the world, your place in it, and what you value. The more thought you put into developing your philosophy, the better equipped you will be to make tough decisions in line with your values when faced with difficult situations.
Why should we bother with a personal philosophy?
Having a personal philosophy gives you a personal set of guidelines to follow when it comes to specific instances in life involving morals, ethics, and how we see ourselves fitting in the world. Do we always do what is right? No matter how painful? Do we see ourselves as independent actors? Or, do we see and understand how our words and actions directly impact the world around us?
What is our personal code of ethics? What is our personal response to adversity? What is our reaction when someone wrongs us?
Having a personal philosophy prevents us from acting selfishly. Having a personal philosophy allows us to persevere in the face of adversity. Having a personal philosophy prevents us from stooping to the level of another person who has wronged us, just for revenge.
A personal philosophy keeps us mentally resilient. A personal philosophy helps us to grow.
How do you develop a personal philosophy? What are its steps, phases, and pitfalls?
The first step is to ask yourself some fundamental questions about life: How do I see myself? What are my goals? What are my priorities? These answers should guide everything else that follows. Next, try to understand the meaning of various concepts like truth or honor or virtue or justice and how they relate to your life. A good place to start is by reading the philosophy of others who have grappled with these questions before you, such as Socrates or Confucius. Once you’ve developed a basic framework for thinking about the world, test it out in specific situations. For example, let’s say you want to know if something is virtuous; ask yourself if it fits within your definition of virtue. If not, then that thing cannot be virtuous. By applying this framework in different areas of your life – like family and work and friends and money – you’ll ultimately develop a set of values that guide how you live and what decisions you make on a day-to-day basis.
When examining personal philosophy in the modern world, it’s important to remember that your opinions and values are not something inherent in who you are. Rather, they’re a collection of decisions made over the course of your life. Once you understand this, it becomes clear that developing a personal philosophy is about taking charge over what you believe instead of just accepting it as an unchangeable part of you.
For instance, I used to get angry when things did not go my way. I would verbally lash out at anyone who would listen. Now, I understand that I may not get my way. Rather than lash out, I focus. I control what I can and improve where needed. My personal philosophy has developed me into a more emotionally stable human being, ready to tackle the world.
Personal philosophy is defined as the system of values that guides how you live your life. It describes how you view the world, your place in it, and what you value. While everyone has a different personal philosophy, it typically reflects the decisions someone has made about his or her own identity and existence. There are many components to this framework for thinking about the world – ranging from concepts like truth or honor to attitudes toward wealth or family – but all can be tied back to an individual’s fundamental beliefs.
What are some examples of important questions to start with?
Some other questions that might provide insight into an individual’s philosophy are: How do I see myself? What are my goals? What does virtue mean? Are people inherently good or evil? What is a just society? Asking these questions might lead to answers that align with things like an ethical code, a political philosophy, or a religious faith. Each of those areas contains different value judgments about what’s good and bad, which leads to specific choices in how someone lives his or her life.
How does personal philosophy relate to identity?
Your philosophy represents the overarching view through which you interpret everything else in your life. It’s the lens through which you see truth or justice or virtue, and all of your opinions are made in light of that framework. When someone says “that’s just how I am” or “it’s just my personality,” it reveals a lack of awareness about how his or her actions reflect on their personal philosophy. People who think deeply about who they are, have a greater capacity to make good decisions because they know what type of person they want to be, beyond just being “themselves.” Additionally, having an extra awareness of self leads to greater awareness of how your thoughts, actions, opinions, and attitudes impact those around you.
Is it possible for two people to have the same personal philosophy?
People often think others with similar circumstances will hold similar positions on issues like politics or faith. They assume there must be some underlying logic that determines why someone thinks one thing or another. But two people can look at the same issue and come to wildly different conclusions while still having a shared personal philosophy. That’s why knowing someone well is often necessary to begin to understand their value system; it might take years before you even glimpse their full perspective.
How does personal philosophy relate to identities like race and gender?
It’s impossible for these identities not to affect your approach to life because everyone has some separate category they fit into based on traits like skin color, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Race and gender are obvious examples of this, but there may be others that play a role in how you see yourself – such as your nationality or family background or religion. They all inform who you think you are on the outside, which determines who you think you are on the inside. It is undeniable that the deciding factor isn’t really about outward appearances or where we grew up geographically. Our identities are shaped upon experience.
What makes someone’s personal philosophy unique?
A personal philosophy is more than just a set of values that guide an individual; it’s also about how he or she uses those values to make decisions and react to others. For example, there are some people who would put their family ahead of everything else in life, whereas others might say following your conscience is most important. Those differences represent two different ways of thinking about what’s more important, even though they’re both operating under the same general framework. Personal philosophies become uniquely identifiable when they’re filtered through specific contexts like culture or nationality or religion because these things change the lens through the world is viewed.
How do emotions affect personal philosophy?
Emotions can be useful because they help connect us to our values. If we didn’t feel anything, we wouldn’t have any reason to care about acting morally or pursuing meaning in life. Without empathy or sympathy, our grandparents would not have intervened during World War II to stop the third Reich. Without emotion, laws protecting all of us from crimes of violence would not exist.
But it’s important not to let our emotions drive every decision without thinking them through and applying some rational thought as well. People who are ruled by their feelings often find themselves saying or doing things they ultimately regret. The trick is finding the balance between rational thinking and emotional feeling so you can make decisions based on your personal philosophy.
How does someone continue refining their personal philosophy?
Ideally, you’ll constantly come back to your beliefs and ask yourself if what you’re doing matches up with them. It’s not always easy to do because you’re probably busy and distracted by all sorts of things, but it can be helpful to think about your personal philosophy when experiencing certain situations. For example, if someone gets angry with you or hurts your feelings, you can ask yourself how that person fits in with the values you want to hold dear. If they don’t make sense together, try to identify why so you can use this knowledge to make better decisions in the future.
What are some common traps people fall into when developing their personal philosophy?
It’s easy for someone’s personal philosophy to become jaded or biased because of a bad experience they’ve had or something they were taught growing up. A judgmental parent might convince a child that people who don’t believe in God are evil and deserve to be punished, and this belief might stay with the child for life. For some people, it might even lead them to reject their religion or spirituality completely because they assume anyone who’s part of a church is just as judgmental and hypocritical as their parents were. Or, someone who is mistreated by a member of a certain race might use that experience to justify prejudice against all members of that group, even though there’s no logical reason to do so. What these individuals don’t realize is they’re allowing the actions of one person to ruin everything for them and completely miss out on getting to know an entire culture or community.
How can you apply your personal philosophy?
Your personal philosophy should guide more than just what you say; it should also determine how you act on a day-to-day basis. Every decision affects not just you but others around you, so once you figure out what matters most to you and how best to use those values and beliefs, make every effort to make decisions accordingly. Even if things don’t always go according to plan, try not to let that affect your belief system. As long as you’re trying the best you can and acting in line with what really matters to you, then your personal philosophy is healthy and rewarding.
What do people find most satisfying about creating a personal philosophy?
People like knowing who they are and why they make certain decisions because it gives them an identity outside of their job or family roles. Setting goals for yourself based on what’s important is often more fulfilling than just going through life without any particular purpose in mind…most people enjoy having a reason for everything they do from morning until night. Not everyone needs a set way of thinking, but those who have carefully developed their beliefs feel confident about themselves and are happy with what they’re doing.
Life is about the journey’s and growth we take. Not the destination. After all, the destination for all of us is mortality. We all die. What we do on our way to our impending death is where purpose and meaning come from.
That same framework can be applied in almost every facet of life. Think about it. If you have ever earned a promotion, you were ecstatic to get it. Yet, within just a few short years, we are looking towards ways to advance even more. It is the quest for our continued journey that fuels us forward.
What are some common pitfalls of creating a personal philosophy?
Just like people can get caught up in their emotions, it’s easy to fall into the trap of overthinking everything. Too much self-analysis wastes time and energy limiting someone’s capacity to actually live life…people who focus too much on figuring out their personal philosophy often spend years without ever taking the leap to explore the world around them or form meaningful relationships. They might be able to fit things together perfectly into some sort of grand philosophical puzzle that makes sense on paper, but it doesn’t mean anything if they never actually put these beliefs into practice. At the end of the day, having a clear philosophy is great, but it’s more important to see if it actually changes anything in their lives.
People who are introspective spend a lot of time wondering what happens after death, whether or not free will exists, whether people are truly aware of their consciousness if there’s any way to prove God exists, if life has any purpose at all…there are so many different questions to ask, and no one person can come up with an answer for everything. The more someone thinks about these questions though, the more they realize how much is still unknown…which can actually be incredibly exciting because it gives them plenty of room to try new things without worrying too much about what might happen next.
How would you define your personal philosophy?
Ideally, everyone has a clear understanding of what they believe to be true and feels comfortable sharing this information with others. It’s impossible for one person to know everything about another person because there are just too many factors involved…although it might be nice if everyone shared the same view of the world, that wouldn’t leave much room for individuality or creativity at all! As long as people try not to judge others based on their personal philosophy, they should feel free to share whatever they think is important without constantly worrying about whether other people will agree with them.
How does your personal philosophy shape your worldview?
Someone’s personal philosophy affects their perspective on just about every aspect of life because it’s the basis for everything they believe to be true. If their worldview changes, then their personal philosophy shifts along with it…even people who are introspective enough to develop a system for understanding the world around them can’t help but learn new things and expand their set of beliefs as time goes on.
I don’t think it is an unfair statement to argue that you are not the same person you were five years ago. By that reasoning, we can assume in another five years, our growth will continue to mold us into someone different than our current state. There are always more questions to ask and answers to find, but someone’s personal philosophy helps guide them through this process without too many surprises along the way.
Your personal philosophy is an incredibly important tool for living a fulfilling life. It helps you make sense of the world around you and guides your decisions based on what you believe to be true. Everyone’s philosophy is different, but as long as you stay true to your own beliefs, you’re sure to find happiness and satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to share your views with others, and always be willing to learn more about what makes life meaningful to other people. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to defining your personal philosophy, so don’t stress out too much about it! Just take things one step at a time and continue exploring the world around you.
It’s no secret that the job market is tough these days. With so many people competing for a limited number of jobs, you need to do everything you can to set yourself apart from the pack. One way to do that is by rebranding yourself.
Rebranding yourself doesn’t mean changing your name or your appearance. Rebranding implies that you’ve grown. You are not the same person you were a few years ago. You have been shaped by the experiences that have made you who you are today. It’s time to reflect on those changes. And to show them to the outside world.
Rebranding means taking your professional and personal growth and sharing that new image for yourself based on who you are and what you have to offer. It means emphasizing your strengths and downplaying your weaknesses. And it means communicating your brand clearly and consistently across all media channels.
It is not enough to have a resume that shows that you go to work. Everyone (for the most part) does. You need something to set you apart from the rest of the pack. Volunteering to sit on a board of a non-profit adds extra skills and knowledge to your resume. To effectively rebrand yourself, you must re-think how you fit into the job market.
If you’re reading this, you most likely are thinking to yourself, “I need a job. I want someone to give me a chance.”
That starting point is defeatist from the beginning. To effectively rebrand yourself, you must learn to think about solutions you can offer. The most significant mindset change you can make is acknowledging that you solve a potential employer’s problem. The employer would not be putting time and effort into recruiting or hiring without a problem or situation they are trying to solve. Therefore, it stands to reason that you are the solution.
If you’re ready to rebrand yourself, here are some tips to help you get started:
CREATE YOUR BRAND
The first step is to determine what your brand stands for. Start by examining yourself and your skills. What kind of impression do you want to give people? Think about the qualities that make you unique. What differentiates you from everyone else in the job market? For example, if most of your experience is in sales, but you’re applying for an office position, you might want to downplay your background in sales. Instead, emphasize the transferable skills that will help you succeed in the role, such as leadership or time management.
FIND AN OPPORTUNITY
Once you’ve determined your brand’s focal points, look for a job that aligns with those qualities. If possible, try to find a company whose brand is consistent with yours. For example, if your brand emphasizes diligence and hard work, it would be a good fit to apply for a business consulting firm where managers and peers alike highly value those traits. Don’t limit yourself geographically either – sometimes traveling can give you access to opportunities outside of what’s available in your local area.
BUILD YOUR BRAND
Before you apply for the job, build a brand around yourself that matches the company’s brand and reinforces what they’re looking for. One way to do this is by creating a website that highlights your skills and experience and links to any work samples or past projects you think would be relevant for employers to consider. You can also promote yourself on social media – make sure all of your posts and pictures reinforce your branding message.
DON’T GET DISCOURAGED
Like every other aspect of the job search process, rebranding takes time and requires effort – there’s no quick fix or magic bullet. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out right away. The more you rebrand yourself, the better your chances are of finding employment in your desired field or with a specific company.
Rebranding yourself isn’t just about applying for one job. It’s about creating a new image that will help attract multiple opportunities in the future. Remember, even if you get the job you’re looking for now, your employer values more than just what you can bring to this position – they want to know that you’ll be valuable to them in future roles as well.
REBRAND YOURSELF AGAIN & AGAIN…& AGAIN…
Like any good product or service, rebranding yourself doesn’t stop once you’ve found employment. You need to tweak and update your brand with each new role continually. Every time you take on a new responsibility or challenge, make sure it’s consistent with your brand’s image. This will help strengthen your value proposition and make you more appealing for future opportunities.
If you’re looking for rebranding inspiration, here is an example of self-reinvention from history:
Alan Shepard – Before becoming America’s first man in space, Alan Shepard was a pretty average astronaut trainee. He had good performance reviews, but he wasn’t considered an exceptional candidate by his peers or managers at NASA. But before his historic flight, he underwent extensive training to prepare himself mentally and emotionally for the mission ahead. After taking on this extra work, Shepard became known as “the right stuff” among his former and current co-workers who noted that he exhibited exceptional courage under pressure when faced with the unknown. And just a year after his historic flight, Shepard was given the Chief of the Astronaut Office position.
Shepard took on extra work rebranded himself as a hard-working, stop-at-nothing person. The extra work paid off.
Rebranding oneself can be a daunting task, but the right approach can also lead to great success. So don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out immediately – rebranding takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the long run. Remember to update your brand with each new role and responsibility continuously.
Anyone who has followed my personal journey knows that the non-profit Frontline Freedom was started out of need. I needed to escape. I needed to escape my own thoughts, struggles, emotions. I needed to escape and stay healthy.
I could have chosen to hit the bottle. That wasn’t for me. In fact, the best advice I ever received was more of a reminder. Alcohol was for celebrations. Not for sadness. Never drink when you’re sad, lonely, or depressed. Only drink to celebrate. Only drink to toast others for their accomplishments.
Enter the inner outdoorsman.
When I was a kid, I had an obsession with camping gear. I loved tents, cooking sets, and building fires from nothing. As I got older, my obsessions stayed with me. I bought all of the backpacking gear I could afford. Only, I didn’t backpack. I put all of my gear in a motorcycle and would take weekend trips, camping wherever I could find somewhere open for the night.
As life hit and I felt alone, I ran into Josh. We started taking backpacking trips and developed what would become Frontline Freedom. Things were going great. I was happy, healthy, and helping others in the process.
Then life hit me again. As it tends to do so unexpectedly.
I received a frantic phone call from my aunt. I could hear my dad screaming in the background. My heart sank.
My aunt said, “David, your brother is dead. He killed himself. He’s gone.”
It was December 1. Just a few days after thanksgiving. I never got to say goodbye. In the ensuing chaos that consumed my family, I did what I always do. I hid my emotions and tried to stay strong for everyone else. I offered encouragement and tried to help people understand that they would never fully understand. We cried, we laughed at old stories, and we wondered why.
Fast forward to four months later.
My mom called me. She was crying on the other end of the phone. “It’s bad, Dave. I need you.” Once again, the surge of adrenaline through my veins made me feel numb as I prepared for her following words. “Michael is dead.”
Michael was my step-brother. We came of age together and became adults at the same time. He was a good man who always provided for his family. Years prior, he became a victim of prescription pills, which turned to heroin use. He fought his demons in and out of rehab. Addiction is an odd thing. He never wanted to be addicted, but the disease overcame him.
He died of an overdose before leaving for work.
Once again, the family was in a state of mourning.
My younger brother, Ryan, was struggling with all of it. I was too. Yet, I again hid my emotions and tried to be the comforter to everyone else.
Luckily, Frontline Freedom had a trip planned between Michael’s death and his funeral. I told my brother, Ryan, that he needed to be on that trip with me. As we tend to do so, we went to Grayson Highlands and backpacked.
I remember looking over a ridge and wondering how to make sense of everything. Here was all the beauty of nature, and I couldn’t help but think that my two brothers would never see sunset again. They would never feel the rush of cool air on their faces again. I looked at Ryan as he watched the sunset over the ridge, and I could see the same look in him.
While I may have been in a sad place, the woods did something for me. It did the same thing it had done when I was a kid and again as an adult just four years prior. They gave me perspective. They gave me a chance to talk to the people on the trip. They allowed me to feel.
Sometimes, we lose feeling. Sometimes, that numbness we feel when we brace for bad news never goes away. Backpacking amid all that turmoil gave me back what I had lost. It gave me feelings, emotions, and, most importantly, safety.
I’ll admit it. I tend not to be a vulnerable man. I fall victim to some sort of never-showing ‘weakness’ mentality. That’s wrong. Weakness is not allowing yourself to heal. Weakness is not showing others that you’re a human.
Backpacking gave me the ability to share. Sharing brings vulnerability yet, courage. Strength comes from sharing. Power comes from admitting that sometimes the people who are always there for other people do, in fact, need people for themselves as well.
That trip was the perfect trip at the ideal time.
I am stronger for going and continue to be stronger today from the lessons I learned while on a trail.
**The above photos is of me and my brother, Ryan, on the Grayson Highlands trip**